Insurance Times asks industry leaders how the insurance sector can better support eTrading this year

WE ASKED: What is the insurance sector doing to help support broker eTrading this year?

Wayne Jefferson, head of eTrading, Applied Systems

We sit right at the heart of the insurance market in terms of eTrading – dealing directly with both brokers and insurers – and it is clear from our perspective that a major shift is now underway.


Wayne Jefferson

Whilst eTrading is well advanced in the personal lines space, it is fair to say that the insurance market has been pretty slow to fully embrace the opportunities in commercial lines.

However, after this slow start, with many insurers having been reliant on setting up often unwieldy closed intranets in order to get their products to brokers, we are starting to see a real opening up of the market and an appetite to embrace open architecture – and a desire to make commercial insurance products more widely accessible.

A key catalyst for this change is without doubt the enhanced functionality and application programming interface (API) plug and play capabilities that come with modern broker management systems.

The insurance market’s changing mindset, changing expectations and the move towards embracing truly digital technology will, I have no doubt, help ensure the commercial eTrading space will look very different this time next year.

Will Edwards, head of SME, Zurich

We’re seeing strong growth in eTrading volumes and are continuing to invest in our digital proposition to make it easier for brokers to interact and trade with us.

Will Edwards

Will Edwards

Some 99% of Zurich’s SME new business is now broker self-served through eTrade, enabled by our digital platform, which offers a broad range of products and breadth of cover.

While platform and technology enhancements will continue to play a critical role in eTrading this year, so too will the focus on combining technology with a highly responsive service. 

We respond to the majority of referrals within 30 minutes or quicker, offering brokers multiple ways of contacting us – via phone, live chat or the platform.

This is all about us being there for brokers when they need us. Technology is important, but so is the ability for experts to intelligently intervene. Behind all our live chats, for example, are experienced underwriters – not bots. 

We’re also investing in training and development of our underwriters to ensure we have the right skills to meet broker needs. 

Steve White, chief executive, Biba

At Biba we want to make sure that members can really benefit from the ease and efficiencies that eTrading can bring.

Steve White

Steve White 

In 2021 we created our Insurance Technology and Innovation Committee to represent members’ interests on all technology and innovation-related matters. The committee helps to formalise the ongoing collaboration Biba has with insurance technology suppliers on behalf of members.

This can only help brokers to take advantage of the best parts of eTrading and gives a vehicle for members to suggest improvements where they are necessary.

In addition, last year – alongside Gracechurch – we launched our industry-wide independent repeating survey of current perceptions around service to set a benchmark across the whole sector.

This includes perceptions in general, which includes viewpoints on e-trading and the support given when an automated system cannot provide a quote.

These two workstreams can dovetail to help us understand the uses of eTrading and help to ensure that it can work effectively for brokers.